By Spencer Jacobson, Staff Writer
For six Newman wrestlers, every practice, meet and tournament is a family affair.
This season, the wrestling team has three sets of brothers on the roster: senior Thor and sophomore Ivan Balavage, sophomores Kameron and Kendall Frame, and sophomores Jake and Josh Patch.
Ryan Smith, the head wrestling coach, said this season’s team is definitely unusual.
Smith said that when it came time for recruiting, signing sets of brothers was not planned and came about naturally.
“It’s one of those things that just happened. You know, I can’t always say that I am going to have three sets of brothers, but it is unique and pretty special,” he said.
Senior Thor Balavage and sophomore Ivan Balavage are from Scranton, Pennsylvania, and after Thor was recruited and began wrestling at Newman, he convinced his younger brother, Ivan, to follow him to the university.
Ivan said he enjoys the feeling of always having someone supporting him.
“Being so far from home, it is especially nice to have a family member here so close,” Ivan said.
Twins Jake and Josh Patch are sophomores from Andover who, up until their high school graduation, always wrestled for the same team.
Jake began his college wrestling career at Newman while Josh started at Ottawa University before transferring to Newman this year.
Josh said that ever since his brother started wrestling at Newman, Jake has wanted him to join him and once again wrestle on the same team.
“After deciding to step away from the sport and leave Ottawa, the coaches called me in to talk to me about transferring and competing here. It was a no-brainer to join the same team as my brother,” Josh said.
Jake said that his favorite thing about being on the same team as his brother is the amount of time they get to spend together.
“When he committed to Ottawa, there was not much time for him to come home. Now he is at every practice, workout and team bonding exercise. The whole experience of Josh transferring to Newman has made us even closer than before,” Jake said.
Twins Kameron and Kendall Frame are sophomores from Goddard who both started their collegiate wrestling careers at the University of Wyoming before making the mutual decision to transfer to Newman to be closer to home.
Kameron Frame said he and his brother are more competitive with each other than their other teammates.
“Competing with my brother always allows me to have a partner and someone to push me. We are very competitive so we are always pushing each other. We started this journey together and plan to finish it together,” he said.
Being at the same school and on the same team as his brother, Kameron said he enjoys the constant support the most.
“I always know that, no matter what, I’ll have my best friend on the team with me. We’ve practically been attached at the hip since day one, so it is nice knowing someone always has my back,” he said.
With three pairs of brothers wrestling on the team, Smith said the positives he sees far outweigh the negatives.
“Having that dude next to you, that’s picking you up when you need it is important. And nobody is going to know you better than your own brother,” Smith said.
PHOTO: Fatima Ortiz, Staff Writer